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Data Reports

Other Sepsis Data Reports

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): Varying Estimates of Sepsis Mortality Using Death Certificates and Administrative Codes — United States, 1999–2014

What is already known about this topic?

Sepsis is a clinical syndrome caused by response to infection. Because there is no confirmatory diagnostic test, the diagnosis of sepsis is based on clinical judgement of suspected infection. Data from both death certificate and administrative claims data have been used to assess sepsis incidence and mortality, but estimates vary depending on the surveillance definition and data source.

What is added by this report?

To highlight the challenges and variability associated with estimating sepsis mortality, CDC compared national estimates of sepsis-related mortality based on death certificates with previously published sepsis mortality estimates generated using administrative claims data. Using death certificate data for the period 1999–2014, CDC found that a total of 2,470,666 decedents (6% of all deaths) had sepsis listed among the causes of death (sepsis-related deaths); for 22% of these decedents, sepsis was listed as the underlying cause of death. For the period 2004–2009, in a previously published report, investigators analyzed administrative claims data using four approaches for identifying adult patients (aged ≥18 years) with sepsis. In data rounded to thousands, the annual range of published sepsis-related mortality estimates based on administrative claims data was 15% to 140% higher (range = 168,000–381,000) than annual estimates generated using death certificate data (multiple causes) (range = 146,000–159,000).

What are the implications for public health practice?

Sepsis is a complex clinical syndrome, representing a response to infection that can arise from many different underlying causes. A reliable sepsis surveillance definition based on objective clinical data is needed to more accurately track national sepsis trends and enable ongoing assessment of the impact of efforts to increase sepsis awareness and prevention.